Expressions Of Thanks From Selected Design World Luminaries

I decided to ask several people in the design/architecture world what they were most thankful for this year, on this most American of holidays. Ironically, most of them weren’t even born in the USA, but all had taken to Thanksgiving. Their responses were personal, thoughtful, and of course, made reference to their work. In each, they gave me something to think about.

Everyday I feel grateful that through Designer Previews I get to to appreciate how they change our lives; one piece of furniture at a time, one word at a time, or one room/gallery/ building/at a time.



Sarah Harrelson is the founder and editor in chief of CULTURED, a design, art and architecture magazine published by the Whitehaus Media Group, based in Miami. It has become a favorite among the design cogniscenti. Sophisticated, elegant and known for its extraordinary art direction, the magazine looks like something created in Europe. Sarah’s is a recognized voice in the design, art and architecture industry; she’s a tastemaker and innovator, reporting and sharing strong creative content that feels right for this moment; and for what’s coming next.

“I am thankful for the creative spirit that inspires every issue of Cultured. I am particularly thankful for the American artist Will Cotton, who spent countless hours adorning Fabiola Beracasa in gold cupcake wrappers exclusively for our December issue—making it the sweetest one yet.”



Anyone who’s met Vladimir Kagan has felt his indomitable energy. The 87-year old German born furniture designer first introduced his curvaceous pieces in 1950; he has said he was inspired by the Bauhaus. His has consistently been a style that emphasizes comfort and functionality, epitomized by his most iconic creation – the Serpentine sofa. It is still sought after today, as it was by Kagan’s early clients, who included Marilyn Monroe and Gary Cooper.

“I’m thankful to be alive, of course, to be enjoying the wonderful recognition I am getting for my work. I’m grateful to be working on a second edition of my book, twelve years after the first one. It will be published in the spring and will be called Vladimir Kagan, (Pointed Leaf Press).  I’ve also been busy working on a limited edition collection of new furniture. It will be art furniture sold both at Ralph Pucci in New York, and Carpenter’s Workshop Gallery in Paris and London.”



Alastair Gordon, preeminent architecture critic and writer of numerous books on architecture, design and urbanism, (most recently, Wendell Castle: Wandering Forms: Works from 1959-1979, Gregory R. Miller& Co.has written on everything from airports to post-war beach houses.  His next book is about modern ruins. And that’s one I can’t wait to read. He is currently a Distinguished Fellow at the Miami Beach Urban Studios, and the Editorial Director of Gordon de Vries Studio, a publishing imprint that he founded a few years ago with partner and wife, Barbara de Vries. He continues to write for several different publications including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.  Although Mr Gordon was born in Scotland, he celebrates Thanksgiving with his family in American, this year in Miami.

“I am most thankful for my four beautiful children, my wife and partner Barbara, my friends, and being able to live year-round on the beach, doing what I love doing,writing, editing, lecturing, making art, and being able to swim in the ocean at the end of each day. That to me is bliss and I feel blessed in every way.”



Cristina Grajales, was born in Colombia, and initially came to America 36 years ago to attend high school in Maine, where she stayed on for University.  Her eponymous Soho, NY gallery has been open for 14 years and is recognized as one of the most significant of its kind; arguably it’s one of the most personal. Grajales presents work from known twentieth century masters to other discoveries that could only be made by someone possessing her singular vision.

“Thanksgiving is so much a part of the American culture, I didn’t understand it in the beginning but now I couldn’t imagine not celebrating it! As  we approach Thanksgiving, I am most grateful for Isabelle, my wife, and our two puppies, and my family; for my gallery, and the people who work with me. I know  how lucky we are that we love what we do.”



Renowned architect Michael Graves was celebrated last weekend at a symposium in his honor, marking his 50th year in practice,  organized by The Architectural League of New York. Today, at 80, Graves is as intrepid as ever:  Currently at work on a school of architecture building in China named for him, and with Kimberly-Clark, on a new collection of products intended to celebrate aging for what it really is: filled with spirit, possibilities, and growth.

Graves says the upcoming collection is rooted in a passion for life and a relentless commitment to challenge design conventions in pursuit of smarter, more beautiful solutions. His work for the past 50 years has encompassed all facets of design.  From architecture to products.  From important civic works of architecture, to private residences, and everything in between.  He is as prolific as ever. 

“I’m grateful for every new day and the design opportunities presented by every new project.  And of course, I’m grateful for health, family and friendship, which is what life is really all about. MICHAEL GRAVES


When it comes to furniture and beautiful objects of design by some of the most influential creators of the past 100-years,  there is very little that the Shanghai born Joel Chen has not seen, touched, discovered, or shared, since he opened JF Chen Gallery, 36 years ago in Los Angeles. His followers are avid collectors, museums, set decorators, filmmakers, and those seeking with Chen specializes in: curated authenticity.

I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve received from this country. That I was able to immigrate, study, and elaborate my dreams which basically have come true in a full cycle. Working laboriously is a virtue that rewards freedom and achievement.